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Free Study Guide for Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin BookNotes

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The author and P. D. East discuss the manuscript of Eastís autobiography. In addition, East gives him numerous other materials on white racism. Griffin meets Eastís wife and daughter who lead a lonely life, as they have been ostracized from society. Later that night the author studies the numerous items that East has given him and discovers that the real crooks and criminals, the most obscene figures are not the ignorant ranting and raving racists, but the politico-legal men who justify and rationalize racism through propaganda and legislation.


This entry gives a deeper insight into the character of East, as he and the author not only discuss the final edition of the autobiographical manuscript, but also those portions of the manuscript that East has deleted and which the author wants restored.

The next part of the dayís entry is about another shameful aspect of racism - the ostracism and social boycott that the innocent family members, of the person who does not believe in racism, have to face. The heavy price that they have to pay for being firm on their ideals, is loneliness. Eastís wife and daughter are one such example, who have been ostracized by the society except by two Jewish families, who also must be facing a similar boycott.

The next part of the entry gives further insight into white racism. This time the legal and political aspects of this evil are exposed. The author studies the research material, hate pamphlets, news clippings, letters and other items that East had given him to read. These reveal that the real obscene racists are not the ranting, raving ones but those men who deliberately distort facts and figures to destroy and subvert the hearts and minds of their ignorant fellow whites.



The author and East visit a Negro University, meet the Dean and tell him about the authorís experiment. They heartily discuss the election scene in Mississippi and East tells them a funny story about a Negro who goes to register as a voter. The white man does not want to register the Negroís name on the list of voters and therefore asks him all kinds of questions so that he fails the test. The Negro finally realizes this but does not quit before letting the white man know that he has understood his Ďgame.í

Later the author decides to visit another part of Mississippi. Meanwhile he visits a Church where he finds a unique booklet written by a Southern white priest on the theme of racism. While waiting for his bus in the Negro rest room, Griffin notices another sign of the exploitation of blacks. He sees a shocking Notice, which displays a list of prices a white man is willing to pay for various types of sensuality with various ages of Negro girls. However most Negroes treat these bestial notices with amusement and derision for they, in fact, expose the white manís sordid and hypocritical sexual morality, and not Negro immorality.


This entry contains a real piece of black humor by East. It is a hilarious example of the ridiculous limits of racism.

The next part of the entry, in sharp contrast, is in a more serious vein, and reveals humane whites, who are exceptions to the rule. One such is a Southern white priest, who sharply exposes racism for common white parents and educators who sincerely want to instill in their children and their students a love for all men and a respect for the dignity and worth of every man.

The next part of the diary is again a sharp contrast. It is a despicable section, as it starkly reveals the shameless lewdness and obscenity of white men who offer a price for Negro woman. The price here is inversely proportional to the age of the girl, that is, the lesser the age of the girl, the higher the price.

However, this section is also about the maturity of most Negroes who look at these evidences of the white manís vices in a very matter of fact way, or treat them with amusement and derision, as such notices in fact expose the most demeaning and degrading aspects of the white man. Most of all the Negroes are amused when they see the white man deluding himself into thinking that he is inherently superior and moral and that it is the Negro who is really intrinsically inferior and immoral.


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